Monthly Tech Tip: Keeping Safe in the 2023 Summer Travel Season

In response to criminals enjoying a wildly successful few years, enterprise-sized companies have worked hard to tighten their defenses. One unintended consequence of all this additional security is that small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individual people now find themselves in the crosshairs of criminals more than ever. If you’re a criminal, why spend lots of time trying to break into a highly secure environment when there is plenty of low-hanging fruit available for the taking?

In this month’s newsletter, we’re going to focus on two things you need to know as we head into summer travel season: mobile phone security and password complexity in light of “help” from faster computers and AI in 2023.

Charging Stations Can Grant Criminals Access to Your Smartphone

The warnings are real. Don’t plug your smartphone into a public USB charging station. This may seem inconvenient, but the reality is that criminals are regularly positioning “fake” charging stations or overlaying malicious equipment on legitimate charging stations so they can electronically access your phone after you plug in. The FBI and the FCC have both been inundated with reports of thefts and problems traced back to criminals accessing cell phones connected to charging stations.

Especially when you’re trying to coordinate travel with summer flight delays, batteries can run low. Be sure your phone is fully charged before you head to the airport (sorry, we had to say it). Bring along your own charging adapter and plug it into an electrical outlet (not a USB port). Buy a travel battery pack that meets TSA and FAA requirements. If you’re traveling with a laptop, you can plug your phone into your computer to take some energy from your computer’s battery.

If you’re traveling outside the US, the FBI has prepared a two-page document with tips to avoid travel-related crimes commonly encountered by citizens. The brochure is geared towards students, but it applies to everyone, even for travel in the US.